In the past eight years, three different Israeli governments have initiated four military operations against Hamas-controlled Gaza. This Hanukka, 2014, we mark exactly six years since Operation Cast Lead, initiated by the Olmert government. This was the second military operation since the disengagement from Gaza in August 2005. Only two years have elapsed since Operation Pillar of Defense. Begun in November 2012, Pillar of Defense lasted eight days and was initiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s second government. A few days from now will mark four months since Operation Protective Edge was undertaken by Netanyahu’s third government.

Sderot and the western Negev are inured to the rituals of “cease-fire.” We are currently in our fifth cease-fire with Hamas of the past eight years. During this time, we have been the target of hundreds of rocket attacks. Looking back on the ritual effect of the past decade’s cease-fires, we can predict the trajectory of the “post-operation era”; as the days go by, we will witness the “incremental rockets, no injuries and no harm done” syndrome, until the escalation that leads to another military operation.

So, one may ask, under what government will the next military operation take place? Will the elections influence the non-normal reality on the Hamas-controlled Gaza border? SOME RESIDENTS in the region, who sit mainly on the Left side of the political map, claim a need for a long-term policy agreement to achieve lasting peace and stability on the Gaza border.

A political policy agreement with Hamas-controlled Gaza and the sovereign ruler of up to half of the Palestinian population over the Green Line (not including refugees in Arab countries) will be called for both directly and indirectly from left-wing parties.

The very recent EU removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations has made this political solution ever more appealing. Indeed, the cease-fire talks conducted this past summer with Hamas in Cairo place Hamas squarely in the category of dominant players in any future talks regarding the reality of southern Israel and Gaza.

A legitimate question is whether or not it is reasonable to negotiate with a group whose ideology, embedded in its charter, culture and the education of an entire generation, features and promotes genocide against the Jewish people (not only the “Zionists”).

In contrast to those on the Left, residents and politicians on the Right claim Gaza should be conquered completely, until the very last Kassam rocket is destroyed, and that Israel should be prepared to pay whatever price in IDF lives this takes. What about the day after, one might venture? For what price will we allow ourselves to take under our wing 1.8 million Palestinian Arabs? There are still no answers.

Those that say that Israel must continue negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on control of the Gaza Strip simply hasten the next military operation. Here is why: Hamas has had full military and governmental control over Gaza since June 2007. Each time new negotiations take place between the PA and Israel, Hamas is there, reminding us that the terror organization won the 2006 elections.

These 2006 elections were viewed by the United States and the EU. Nine years have passed since the last PA elections in Gaza and the West Bank. Who is Abbas representing? The over one million Israelis in southern Israel who live within range of Gaza missiles ask themselves: If Hamas and the rocket-fire are not part of any future negotiations or peace process, how can Israel reach an agreement? Can one imagine the absurdity of a peace agreement that would not address rocket-fire from Gaza? Israel has two choices: to negotiate directly with Hamas-controlled Gaza (unlikely, as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel) and yet another military operation in Gaza. Post-election, when rocket escalation occurs, the government of Israel will be left with the same two poor choices.

The author runs the Sderot Media Center.


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